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A month in Chad

November 24, 2011

It’s been a little over a month now that I’ve been in Chad.

I’m working as a WASH Program Manager (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), mainly focusing on the current outbreak of cholera.

To give you a bit of context for what my work consists of, I’ll start with a little context on cholera itself.

Cholera has an ‘fecal-oral’ transmission route and is mostly spread though interpersonal contact (think shaking hands with someone who hasn’t washed theirs, and then eating something).  Cholera, while being a very serious disease, is relatively simple to both prevent and treat.

So what do you do to prevent cholera?  Mostly just wash your hands.

What happens when you get cholera?  You have diarrhea and you vomit, both the color of rice water.  And you do both so frequently and in such volume that you get dehydrated really, really quickly.  So much so that you can die from dehydration in a matter of hours.  You don’t have stomach pains or a fever, which helps differentiate it from other stomach bugs.

So whats the cure?  Compared to many other disease it’s not complicated – get rehydrated .  This can be done by drinking a rehydration solution (water, salt and sugar), or getting fluids intravenously if it’s progressed enough.  Do so until the sickness has run its course.

Personally, my work has consisted of working out a game plan and training a field team so that as new cholera cases are reported in the area we have a team ready to go and disinfect the area (using a spray can of chlorinated water), as well as implementing preventative measures so as to try and restrict the spread of the disease (i.e., disinfecting public areas and water points, spreading the word on preventative measures, and passing out hygiene kits (soap and bleach) to those most vulnerable).

When I’m lucky, this means that I get to go out into the villages and participate in the distribution of materials or visit the Cholera Treatment Center and be there while our team interviews patients (I don’t actually know what going on at this point though since it’s all in Chadian Arabic), but it’s very interesting none the less.  Other times it means that I’m behind my desk doing paper work (planning and budgets).

But even the desk work can be fun.  For instance, here is my latest project. They are designs that will eventually go on the back of tshirts that will get distributed.  I’ve included English translations as the caption to each image those of you who don’t speak Arabic, French, or Stickman.

Don't eat without first washing your hands

Don't eat without first washing your hands

If I have diarrhea and I vomit I go to the health center

If I have diarrhea and I vomit I go to the health center

I go to the bathroom and I wash my hands with soap

I go to the bathroom and I wash my hands with soap

Don't do your business around water points

Don't do your business around water points

Other than that things have been good.  While I was really worried about the heat, we’re at the point in the year where I don’t even need to put the air conditioning on when I go to sleep.  Unfortunately, the security situation is such that I can’t walk around much during the day.  But that’s ok, we have a BBQ (see photo below), I do yoga and play badminton at the French Army base as exercise, I eat ridiculously well (we have a chef at the base that makes us whatever we want – and, he does all the dishes), and I play card and dice games and drink Chadian beer with the few expats that are around.

This will be my routine until just before Christmas.  I got word the other day regarding my flight home – its official; I’ll be back in the bay 21st Dec!

P.S. – Below area a couple of random photos for your viewing pleasure.

Forgot this one in the original post. Here's Xavier - another WASH manager, and my housemate through most of my time there. A great friend and the instigator of 'la maison de bonheure'!

Our oil drum BBQ

Kids hanging out during a distribution of materials

Kids hanging out during a distribution of materials

My fancy office

My fancy office

Entrance to our house

Entrance to our house

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Katie R permalink*
    November 24, 2011 12:34 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jamie! Remember to wash your hands before you eat your bbq Thanksgiving dinner. Love the post, I hope you can bring me back one of those shirts- I speak fluent Stick Figure. Love you 🙂

  2. November 28, 2011 3:18 pm

    Jamie, those public health cartoons made me legit LOL–especially the guy having a crap by the “water point”. Great work! Hope you are staying safe (and cool) in Chad! -Sarah

  3. Xavier permalink
    January 16, 2012 11:06 am

    Hi James,
    No pictures of me ! That’s so disappointing. 😉
    Cheers Mate.

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